Friday, 18 March 2016

How social media can damage your children's lives.

I've never blogged about my son from a failed relationship, how he's never met his father or what happened 24 years ago, or my divorce from the father of my 2 other boys, or the nasty divorce my husband went through and the effect on his 2 children.

As much as time is a good healer, and I couldn't be happier now, time also twists the truth. My mother has always said there are two sides to every story. Yours and mine then the truth.

No one else can really know what goes on in a relationship. When it breaks down, it has it's reasons, whether it's an affair, domestic violence, growing apart etc. The only people who can tell you what happened are the people who were there.

A few years ago my son asked me not to post photos of him online anymore. He was 13. As much as it saddened me, I agreed, but I told him he couldn't stop me blogging about him. Not his antics, the trouble or stress he caused me, but the effects of him being my son on my life. Returning after 2 and a half years living abroad to boarding school in the UK, his dyslexia and how him leaving home impacted on my life.

I was interviewed by the Daily Mail for a piece on Empty Nest Syndrome and how it happened early due to us being expats. I asked his permission, I read him the copy and he agreed to a photograph. You can read the interview here.

You see what my children don't want to see in print is anything that could come back and haunt them in years to come, anything that could cause them ridicule, pain or embarrassment or could affect future relationships and job opportunities.

We've all cringed when our parents have brought out the baby photos to show school friends or potential partners, but they can be put back in a box and the memory is over, but when they are posted online they remain for there forever.

It's also not fair to talk about the 'other' person online where painful details are recorded, during or after the event, details that are written often to justify the writers current situation, where the other person and their family can read it.

Who knows what will happen in years to come. You may reunite, then what do you do about moving on from the past? It's all out there, every detail of his or your affair, their access to the children, whether you've banned them from seeing the kids due to their new relationship or he/she decides that just don't have room in their life for the kids right now, or because collecting the kids, means seeing you and a mouthful of abuse, so they just stay away.

I still hold every detail about the separation from my eldest's son father, I used it for the courts to provide evidence to ensure I had custody and received financial support till he's 18th birthday. I have the paperwork from my divorce and we've kept all the paperwork detailing my husbands divorce, but it is all devoid of emotion and feelings. Peter and I have decided it's time to let these things go. We don't want the children to be mourning our deaths when it happens with the added upset of finding paperwork about their other parent(s) and tainting/damaging their memories of us all.

We remember these times, we also remember things differently, with time the things we thought were heartbreaking have actually turned out to be OK. Peter's son remembers the divorce, but he remembers it differently to us as we shielded him from a lot of the stuff, he was 11, it wasn't his fault or his responsibility.

Social Media wasn't around when we went through all of this, I'm glad it wasn't or I would have probably tweeted and/blogged in anger, or used forums to find support or just offload to. But I'm glad I didn't, that information would be there forever.

There are many consequences from blogging about stuff like this. Firstly, the children can read it, they could be exposed to things you've shielded them from, that could cause damage later on in life. Would you really like to read about the 'horrible' things your mother or father did to each other? Would you want to read about how your father refused to pay your mother any money? or read about their affair(s) in detail?

My eldest has never seen his father, but there is time, who knows one day he may, my other two children have a good relationship with their father, sadly my step children don't with their mother, but that is all from their own experiences with the relationships they've formed as they've become adults.

I cringe sometimes at the amount of stuff people post on social media, slagging ex partners off and individuals who have wronged them in their eyes. Bloggers often justify it as a way of warning others, claiming to offer advice and support should others find themselves in a similar situation, but there are ways of doing that without revealing personal details, slating the other party, discussing intimate details that remain online forever that could potentially damage your career, your friends, the other person and more importantly your children.

20 comments:

  1. You make a few very good points. There is a good reason why I do my blog mostly annon these days - because to an extend it protects my kids a lot.

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    1. i often think about blogging anon, i'm just glad social media wasn't around when the kids were little

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  2. I whole heartedly agree, we as parents want to protect our children from hurt - that is our job in life. What I also think sad is young people (under 18's) who share so much about themselves that also has the potential to haunt them in years to come.
    When we were kids bullying ended at the end of the school day, nowadays they carry on with online bullying and text message victimisation, thing it is such a shame it robs them not only of their innocent childhood but also takes up huge amounts of their free time when they should be out having carefree fun.

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    1. I think it's different if kids publish stuff about themselves and over share online as an adult can stand in and support this process, it's when the parents expose their child to being bullied or distressed that worries me the most

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  3. Such a good post and very sound advice for others. It's so easy to go online and talk about very personal matters, but your way of doing things sounds so much better for everyone involved.

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  4. This is a great post and I totally agree. My children don't mind me blogging about them and my life with them but I wouldn't dream of posting anything damaging or hurtful, or something that would affect them in later life. I also cringe when I see people airing their marriage difficulties very publicly. At the time, I just don't think people are in a place to think how it could affect their children, especially if they are very young. Hopefully they might come across this and think again. The old adage of 'airing your laundry in public'. The problem is, we are now a society that shares everything online. So hard not to.

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    1. If I post anything negative about my family it's usually my response to their comments or actions, with Peter (my husband) and my father I warn them if they carry on it'll go on Facebook for all to see

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  5. I agree with you, there is a limit on how much you would want to share on social media, especially regarding children. I do post quite a lot of photos of my younger son and he seems to be happy for me to do it, but at some point when he's older, we might change this dynamic altogether, like I did with my older son who's barely visible on my blog.

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    1. as a result of being careful with what i post online a lot of people are often surprised when they meet me to know i have 5 kids

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  6. I agree that's why I have decided to focus on the good stuff. I blog about my grandson, with his parents permission, and I keep it light. My blog is a diary, a visual record of what we do because when he's a young man I will be an old woman and may not remember well enough to tell him what a joy he was and what fun we had.

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    1. I post quite a bit in fits and starts about my step daughter who is disabled and my 5 year old niece in the Uk but I also seek my sisters permission before i post

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  7. This hit so many nails on the head!! I was having a discussion with a friend about this earlier in the week that I get pained when families air their dirty linen in public some
    Things should stay unsaid on social media. Plus you also don't want things that can come back to haunt everyone involved!!

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    1. Ps: this reminded me of something my mom always said - words said are like broken eggs that can't be put back together. And this is even much worse on social media

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    2. It's often the nastiness i can't cope with, even when i don't know the person it still makes me cringe

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  8. Spot on post. You see so many do it these days when their relationship breaks down. I can see it must be so easy to do in the heat of the moment but once it's out there it's there and tends not to go away.

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  9. I've only hinted at the reasons for my marriage break up on my blog: it would be a completely compelling story, but I don't tell it for all the reasons you've listed above. And my son has also requested no photos: I've even removed all the old ones too, except where he is not identifiable. Nor do I blog directly about him, and I'm mostly anonymous, so I'm doing my best to make sure that nothing I do on-line comes back to haunt him. However I do ask for help sometimes on Facebook, perhaps that is dangerous, but without it, I don't know where we'd be.

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    1. if i'm ever 'last man standing' i'll blog it all when it can't hurt anyone

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  10. I love this because it's just what I've been thinking for such a long time! I don't do this, I've never revealed truly personal information, I just can't bring myself to do it. I would feel terrible if my words, written in anger, were to affect my children later in life.

    Thanks so much for linking to #PoCoLo

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    1. you're welcome, off to read and comment on some of the posts now

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